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Pursuing a smart city status wherever in the Philippines is not only the sole responsibility of the government (both from local and national), it can only work if all sectors collaborate to invest in making a city smarter.

A smart city is a technologically modern urban area that uses different types of electronic methods and sensors to collect specific data. This data is used to improve the city government’s operations to make it more efficient in meeting the needs of its residents. This also ensures a better quality of government service and citizen welfare. Examples of smart cities around the world are Singapore, Dubai, Amsterdam, New York, and London, among others.

During the recently concluded Business Forum; A Blueprint for Philippine Smart Cities, hosted by BusinessWorld and The Freeman held at Belmont Mactan on November 10, 2023, experts, business leaders and advocates rallied for inclusive participation from every Filipino. They emphasized initiating the movement by promoting everyday discipline, such as segregating household waste. This call extended to leveraging technology and fostering a robust eco-consciousness in adopting green living practices, resonating with the belief that simple actions like eschewing paper plates alongside plastic spoons and forks contribute significantly.

“LGUs [the government] can’t do it alone. They can only do so much,” said AboitizPower chief operating officer (COO) for Distribution Group Anton Perdices emphasizing that achieving a Smart City status is a shared endeavor.

“Together, we can optimize energy consumption, enhance grid stability, increase resilience, and empower consumers to make more informed choices,” Perdices added.

For his company, which includes Visayan Electric, Perdices said it has long been implementing innovations at the back of Metro Cebu cities’ bid to become smarter cities.

It’s all about energy democratization, electrification of the economy, with the expected influx of electric vehicles, and digitalization through smart meters, net metering, digital substations, and smarter city grids,” Perdices explained.

“In our pursuit of a smarter future, we’ve introduced MobileAP, an app that streamlines bill payments and empowers customers by providing a clear view of their energy consumption history. It’s all about making life more convenient for you. To make these aspirations a reality, a well-planned transition in the city’s energy system is essential. This transition demands cross-border collaboration and earning from successful cities that have walked this path before,” Perdices said.

“At AboitizPower, we integrate renewable sources, align with government policies, and support the development of smart grids. These steps are crucial in achieving our vision of smarter, more sustainable cities. In this journey, innovation is our guiding star. We are an integral part of the Aboitiz Group’s Great Transformation, a vision for AboitizPower that encompasses decarbonization, digitalization, and decentralization. Our initiatives range from implementing smart metering for more accurate measurements to utilizing distributed energy resources such as rooftop solar and battery energy storage. Our drive for innovation extends beyond our operations and traverses to involve other stakeholders in the city ecosystem,” Perdices pointed out.

Likewise, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) president Kelie Ko affirmed Perdices’ view, saying creating a legitimate Smart City is a “two-way thing.” People, he said should cooperate in changing their mindsets and way of living.

“We don’t wait for the City government to make a city smart or smarter. We have to work with the government to achieve it,” Ko said.

According to Ko, in Mandaue City, the private sector through the MCCI, is working closely with the Mandaue City government in its efforts to transform the industrial city into a smart city. Although this is an ambitious endeavor, Ko lauded Mandaue City’s initiatives in changing policies that are geared toward making Mandaue smart.

Ko mentioned Mandaue City’s initiatives such as the incentivization of green building certifications in developments and the complete digitalization of the Business Permit and Licensing Office (BLPO). These efforts stand as pivotal measures showcasing the city’s serious commitment to establishing a smart city reputation.

During the half-day forum, urban planner Stephen Rhey Ralota, serving as a panelist and the director and project manager-Cebu Office for Palafox Architecture Group Inc., asserted that while the government has begun embracing the smart city concept, he advocated for the implementation of additional programs and the enactment of [more] laws to foster smart living among Filipinos.

Ralota underscored the necessity of the government to launch comprehensive information campaigns and educational initiatives aimed at fostering cultural shifts towards smarter living, essential for establishing a new norm in lifestyle.


Autor(en)/Author(s): Ehda M. Dagooc

Quelle/Source: The Freeman, 13.11.2023

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